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History repeats itself, and so have history test scores among the nation's eighth-grade students.
The latest scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress show most students falling short of proficiency standards in U.S. history, geography and civics. The scores remained virtually unchanged from 2010 and 2014.
Localized data were not available Wednesday, but Utah students were expected to be in line with their national peers, according to Robert Austin, a social studies specialist with the Utah State Office of Education.
"It's a good reminder that we still have a lot of work to do," he said.
The NAEP, also known as "The Nation's Report Card," tests a sampling of students across the country. Scores released Wednesday for social studies showa majority or plurality of students earning a "basic," but below-proficient, mastery.
Only 18 percent of students scored at or above proficient in U.S. history, compared to 27 percent in geography and 23 percent in civics.
Some demographic groups' test scores improved since 2010, the last time the tests were taken. Overall, the changes in scores were not statistically significant, according to NAEP.
Austin said the test's performance benchmarks are "aspirational" holding students to a higher standard than grade-level expectations in many states.
The test scores arrive during a period of renewed focus on civics education at the state and national levels.
In Utah and five other states, lawmakers have approved legislation requiring high school students to pass a U.S. citizenship test before graduating.
Utah's bill, sponsored by state Sen. Howard Stephenson, of Draper, requires students to answer correctly on at least 70 percent of 50 questions culled from a test given to immigrants seeking citizenship. Austin said a student who scores in the "basic" skill range on NAEP would reasonably be expected to pass the citizenship test. And Stephenson compared the test to the times tables, creating a foundation to build upon.
"This test that we require this year is just the beginning of very rudimentary knowledge," he said.
Despite the relatively low scores, Stephenson said he's happy to see the NAEP tracking performance in civics and history.